Tom Butt
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  75th Anniversary of the End of WWII in Europe
May 7, 2020

WWII in Europe ended on May 8, 1945, 75 years ago tomorrow. My father was in the US Army in Europe at the time the war ended and did not return to the United States until December of 1945. This story is about my parents and WWII. This project began by trying to put photos from a WWII scrapbook compiled by my mother into context. The photos were sent by my father to my mother in letters, which sometime after the war, she either destroyed or threw away. What a waste, but this was not uncommon in those days. At least she kept the photos.

My father, Thomas Franklin Butt was born in Eureka Springs, AR on March 26, 2017, the last of seven children born to Festus Orestes (known as F.O.) Butt and Essie Mae Cox Butt. He died of lung cancer in 2000 at the age of 83. My mother died of complications of asthma and emphysema in 1991 at the age of 69. A lifetime of smoking killed them both.
75th Anniversary of the End of WWII in Europe

Figure 1 - The Butt family in Eureka Springs late 1930s. Top: Jack Butt, Joe Butt and his wife Mary, John Butt, F.O. Butt, Tom Butt and Bob Butt. Lower: Frances (wife of Jack), Dorothy Butt, Faye (wife of John), Essie Butt and Kathleen Butt
Eureka Springs had peaked in the 1880s as a popular spa and at that time was one of the largest towns in Arkansas. My grandfather ( my father’s father) Festus Orestes Butt (known as F.O Butt)  was a self-made lawyer and businessman who did not attend law school but instead “read the law” under the tutelage of a local attorney, passed the bar at age 19 and became an attorney. In addition to his law practice, my grandfather served two terms as mayor of Eureka Springs; a term as superintendent of schools for Carroll County; two terms (1897-1900) as representative for Carroll County in the Arkansas House of Representatives; two terms (1901-1904, 1927-1930) in the State Senate where he was president pro tempore. He was a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1917-18 and was elected chancellor and probate judge of the 13th Chancery Circuit by the Bar of the Circuit to serve in 1942-43, during his son John's service in the United States Navy in World War II. One of his more interesting law clients was Carrie Nation, the saloon smashing crusader of Women’s Christian Temperance Union fame.

The Butts came from Illinois by way of Kentucky and Virginia, and my great-grandfather William Alvin Butt fought in the Civil War for the North in the 126th Illinois Infantry. My great grandfather Cox came from Alabama and fought for the Confederacy. The Civil War was still a topic of hot discussion in my grandparents’ home nearly 100 years after it had been settled.

Figure 2 - 1929 in Eureka Springs, left to right, my grandmother Essie Butt, my dad and his dog “Don,”, my Uncle Jack Butt

My father grew up in Eureka Springs, where he attended local public schools. During summers while he was in high school, he had a job life guarding at a local resort on Lake Leatherwood. He graduated from high school at age 16 and began attending the University of Arkansas some 45 miles away in Fayetteville. At least one of his siblings was also at the University, and for some time, my grandmother moved with them to Fayetteville and “tended house,” bringing along the family cow.

Figure 3 - Thomas F. Butt

My mother, who grew up in eastern Arkansas, had spent the summer of 1941 in Hawaii visiting her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was Col. (later Brig. General Edgar King) the ranking medical officer at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked in December of 1941.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941, the surgeon's office of the Hawaiian Department, located at Fort Shafter on the island of Oahu, was composed of 10 officers (including 4 of the Regular Army), 8 enlisted men, and 15 civilians. In addition, certain medical, dental, and veterinary officers assigned to hospitals on Oahu were considered part of the department surgeon's staff. On the day of the attack, the office of the department surgeon, Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Edgar King, MC (fig. 84), was divided, together with the other technical services, into forward and rear echelons. Colonel King was made directly responsible to the commanding general of the department (Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, after 17 December), who maintained his forward echelon headquarters underground in Aliamanu Crater. Forward echelon performed the functions of a theater of operations headquarters; rear echelon of those of a communications zone. The Hawaiian Department was placed under martial law, and as the commanding general held the additional responsibility of military governor (with headquarters at Iolani Palace, Honolulu), Colonel King became responsible for the health of civilians, as well as for that of Army troops, in Hawaii.(

According to Edgar King’s daughter, he graduated from the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. He was a career officer in the Army Medical Corps. According to my mother, "He was a pioneer in the field of psychiatry. His entire household staff at Ft. Leavenworth were prisoners whom he had rehabilitated. During his time in the Canal Zone, he probably did more regarding the fevers 'get screens,' than others. He later worked in the Pentagon with some doctors who had served with him in the Canal Zone, and they told me that Granddaddy King had done all of this. He was 6' 9'' tall and a commanding presence."

“At Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, Edgar King was Chief Surgeon - he handled all the casualties (for all service branches). He was prepared - highly decorated - he had known months in advance of a Japanese attack that Hawaii was vulnerable and had requisitioned adequate medical supplies." He was later cited for outstanding service, promoted to brigadier general, head of the Medical Department of Hawaiian Islands (then a U.S. Territory). He retired from there and with his wife Susan lived in Kerrville and El Paso, TX - later in Reno, NV.” (from Susan Dau Fannon, 1989)
Brigader General Edward King

Figure 4 - Brigadier General Edgar King
My mother recalls from her summer in Hawaii dating young men who were on their way to China to serve as pilots in the clandestine Flying Tigers, formed to help defend China from the Japanese aggressors.

My father graduated cum laude with a law degree from the University of Arkansas in 1938 and was admitted to the bar the age of 21. For the next two years, he practiced privately in Fayetteville and served on the faculty of the University of Arkansas Law School. He participated in ROTC and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry with the MOS 2725, Instructor, Tactics. He was called to active duty in 1940 and met my mother at the University of Arkansas, where he was assigned as an instructor in ROTC, and she was a sophomore student. My mother and father were married April 25, 1942. They were lucky to stay at the University of Arkansas for a time, but my father was moved around from assignment to assignment, with my mother following until I was born on March 23, 1944, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was at the New Mexico School of Mines in nearby Socorro as an instructor in an Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). This was a program designed to give special college training to young men already in the military. Many colleges and universities across the nation had similar units.

Figure 5 - ROTC photo

My mother and father were married in April of 1942 at the home of my King grandparents with my grandfather King, a Methodist minister, presiding. 

Figure 6 - Cecilia King wedding announcement

Figure 7 - Wedding of Thomas F. Butt and Cecilia King, April 25, 1942

In the early years of World War II, my father was stationed in several locations training infantry, among the last of which was at the New Mexico School of Mines in Socorro, near Albuquerque, where I was born. My mother had followed my father to New Mexico, where they rented an old adobe ranch building that had been divided into a duplex.

Figure 8 - Thomas F. and Cecilia Butt with Tom K. Butt, 1944, prior to leaving for the European Theatre of WWII.

My mother wrote:

The then Capt. Butt had received Army orders in December 1943 to go to Socorro where he would work in an Army officers training program at the School of Mines there. We made the long trip out slowly as I was about seven months pregnant. Upon arriving, we went to a little old hotel (the town’s only) at the end of the road, staying there for a few days looking for housing. We eventually moved into an adobe duplex which had originally been a one-family house, the home-place of a ranch complex. It was a dreary vista for any eyes and a difficult one for a pregnant, sickly female. Shopping was traumatic, with only naked, cold rabbit offered in the grocery meat counters, or fried, the only meat on the menu in the two town restaurants. Overly hot Mexican food was an alternative. There being no doctors or hospital in Socorro, our frequent weekends to Albuquerque to see the obstetrician offered a chance to enjoy the hospitality of the lovely Alvarado Hotel there. The Santa Fe charged right up to the doorway of the hotel where Indians in native garb waited to show and sell their arts to incoming tourists. Literally, it was a "Gateway to the West" as the sign over the entrance gate stated.

To return to our arrival in Socorro, and the little hotel there where we went on our arrival night, there was much scurrying about as a large party was to be held that evening. Since visitors at the hotel were few and Tom's position at the local college made him already known, we were invited to join in the festivities. The party was a birthday celebration to honor the grand dame of Socorro, the beloved Senora Baca. All the town seemed to be there to pay tribute to the tiny little lady of 90, beautifully dressed in an ankle length black silk of an earlier day, with lace and jewels to make a picture-perfect image. She and her family were among the earliest, and surely the most distinguished, of the Socorro citizens and one of the few aristocratic Spanish families to still be social, political and economic leaders. Her late husband, El Fago Baca, had been their sheriff in territorial days, as well as U.S. Marshall and legislator.

The senora reigned that evening as a queen might, graciously greeting all well-wishers from her throne-like seat in the large hall. We were enchanted. It was nearly a year later, back in Batesville, that I learned from Aunt Dan that the same Senora Baca had been her dearest friend in those much earlier days when they were frontier wives together at Socorro, the senora of landed Spanish gentry and Aunt Dan, who followed the Santa Fe through the wilderness of New Mexico. Time and the world become swiftly small for us. The new orders for overseas duty had arrived the day after the baby’s arrival in a hospital in Albuquerque.

Figure 9 - Elfego Baca was a gunman, lawman, lawyer, and politician in the later years of the American wild west. Baca was born in Socorro, New Mexico, to Francisco and Juana Maria Baca. His family moved to Topeka, Kansas, when he was a young child. Wikipedia In 1885 Baca married his wife Francisca and they would remain married for the next sixty years.  They had at least six children.  
Regarding the onset of WWII, my son, Andrew, transcribed the following from my father in 1991:

I was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on a Sunday afternoon on December 7, about two o'clock.  My roommate and I had just finished a late lunch and were just starting to play bridge with our two girlfriends and had the radio on.  We were both in the army at the time and were second lieutenants.  Of course we were shocked, that is shocked in the sense of being startled and depressed that this had happened so unexpectedly, and beyond that we were not particularly surprised because it had been thought by many people both in the government and just ordinary citizens for a year or more that there was a good chance that the United States might sometime get drawn into the war.  I had been in the army over a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed and worked as an instructor at the University of Arkansas for the ROTC program.  We were sorry to know we were at war and that it would probably be a long war and that many people would be killed and that it was a bad thing, but having realized that, we were very patriotic and we were very full of energy and very anxious to be a part of it and to get on with it and to whip the hell out of the enemy.

After Pearl Harbor we were just kept on duty at the University, because all of the military services, the Army, the Navy, the Army Air Corps, the Marines set about immediately to augment and increase the number of young men in the ROTC and training programs, so we stayed right here at the University and in the space of six months we had about two thousand young students training in the program where before that we only had about five hundred. 

My father spent a short time in Ft. Worth at another high school ROTC program before shipping to Europe as a legal specialist in foreign claims after completing the JAG Foreign Claims Course in Lebanon, TN. He disembarked at Omaha Beach in Normandy in September, 1944, about three months after D-Day, and then followed the front through France and Belgium where he commanded a small detachment (Claims Office, Team 6816) settling claims of Europeans against the American military.

He moved from place to place through northwestern France and eventually into southern Belgium until the war ended in the spring of 1945.

More of Andrew’s 1991 interview:

I saw service in the United States, and in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, and Germany, (pause) Oh, and England.  I went overseas in 1944 after the Normandy invasion.  I arrived at a little bitty town on the west coast of Scotland, called Greenock spelled G - R - double E - N - O - C - K, and it was a port capable of handling large ocean - going vessels, and I went over on a former French luxury liner called, the Isle de France, and it had been put into war service and stripped of all its elegant interior and arranged for enough bunks and space to carry about four thousand or five thousand soldiers.  Because I was a lawyer, the army had sent out word to various installations all over the United States saying that there was a need for lawyers and insurance agents and doctors and real estate claims adjusters to work with what were called foreign claims teams in the foreign claims service, and our job was to set up a place to work on the European continent and there received the complaints of the civilians who claimed that the American soldiers had stolen or damaged or ruined their property.  They were making a claim against the United States to pay them the value of their lost, damaged, or stolen property, caused by the thievery of American soldiers or the wrongful damage of property.  That entire operation was called the foreign claims service, and our job, as I say, was to receive the foreign citizens, to investigate them, and to determine if the claim was fair and to determine if the American soldiers had done the damage, and if so authorize payment, but equally to determine if the American soldiers didn't do it and if they were not negligent in doing so, than the claim was denied.  There was an absolute rule that any damage caused by combat action, the United States would not pay for, because that was just a necessary result of warfare and of course the United States had treaties with all these countries, and it was agreed that the U.S. would not be obliged to pay for any damage caused by combat.  But for example if a soldier got drunk on pass and broke windows or ran his jeep into the fence of a citizen, or whether he was drunk or not, if he was just a no good bum and he broke into a bakery shop and stole a bunch of bread or whatever, he was just a plain thief, and when that was established the United States would pay.

I found it extremely interesting to get to know something of the country of France and Belgium and Luxembourg and Holland simply by being in a foreign country that I'd never been in before, and getting to know a good many of the citizens of those different countries, England too of course.  The foreign claims service and the unit I belonged to was not a combat army unit, we were not a fighting unit, but since we were on the continent and in the area of operations following immediately behind the area of combat we saw firsthand the results of fighting and battle damage and saw the results of the heavy bombardment by the English and American air forces, and of course we could see and hear the bombers flying over, day and night, and that was inspiring.  Those are ours; those are our airmen up there; we're just whippin' the hell out of those Germans, (laughs). 

I never did see any of the enemy in wartime, but I saw a good many German prisoners immediately after the war, and they, of course, had either surrendered or been otherwise captured and for a few months after the war in Europe was over, I was still there waiting to get sent home, and we were mainly just marking time waiting for our orders to be sent home.  We had to have a place to live and to eat and keep alive, (laughs) like anybody does any time and for quite a while we, meaning a large number of American officers were assigned quarters in, oh I guess what you could call hotels and apartment buildings, that sort of thing, and German prisoners were there to cook and serve and make the beds and keep house for us. 

When I arrived in September, of 1944, and you will remember that what we called and what history calls D-Day was June 6, 1944 and the actual fighting, the invasion was very, very heavy fighting, so, although I didn't actually land in France until about the first week in September, which would have been three months after the invasion, the fighting was still going on less than fifty miles away.  So, the first thing I saw were bombed out bridges and burned villages and chewed up ground, where the tank warfare had taken place, and just the general wreckage of heavy warfare.  We landed on Omaha beach, where the invasion forces had, and the great big steel barriers that the Germans had put up were still in the water, and lots of barbed wire, and all the German pill boxes, heavy concrete bunkers were up on the ledge overlooking the coast with the knocked out German guns, they were all still there.  There was very extensive battle damage of bombardment and artillery damage all through France and Holland.  We were stationed in the Ardennes forest, where the heaviest tank fighting and infantry fighting during the so-called Battle of the Bulge, took place.  And we were stationed after the fighting of course, but there were just burned out tanks all over the place, and you could see where trees had been just mowed down by artillery fire and so on, so that was just quite a thing to see that, in the wake of battle, the damage that had occurred. 

So war is a pretty dirty, ugly thing, any way you look at it, all the same when you're young, and full of hiss and vinegar and been trained to be a soldier there's a certain allure and challenge.  It's not an exact parallel to compare it to a football game, but in a way it is, when you've worked hard and trained to perfect your skills and what ability you can, why you ought to get in there and see what you can do.  And Although you realize full well that it's dangerous and dirty and unpleasant, very few of us can make ourselves realize that, I'm the one who's gonna' get killed, you may get killed, and he may get killed, but they're not gonna' get me. 
Did you ever regret not fighting in combat during the war?

I did at the time, very much, I was young, and I was strong, and I was well trained, and I wanted very much to be assigned to the Infantry, perhaps a company commander.  It was not until years later that I realized that I was one of the lucky ones not assigned a combat role, and in after time I'm thankful and grateful that I was not, although, were that same age again, I would feel the same way I did, I would want to get in there and fight with my company, but I didn't get to do that.  I returned to the States in, I think it was , December 23,1945, which was about two days before Christmas. I was offered a regular army commission to stay in the regular army, and after talking it over with my father, and your grandmothers father, I just decided that I had finished law school and started law practice that that's probably where I had better go, and back to civilian life, but the army was willing to keep me in the army reserves, so I stayed in the army reserve and stayed on for the next thirty years.

In France, my father was assigned to Claims Office Team 6816, Normandy Base Section. In a History of Claims Section from Activation to December 1944, the Mission is described:

The statutory basis of the Claims Service is the Act of January 2, 1942, as amended by the Act of 22 April 1943 – the Foreign Claims Act. The express purpose of the Act is the promotion and maintenance of friendly relations by the prompt settlement of meritorious claims. The Director of Claims, Headquarters, Normandy Base Section, is charged with the responsibility of investigating, processing and disposition of claims arising out of service-connected accidents or incidents occurring within the Base Section and such other matters as may by higher authority be turned over to him for investigation, processing or disposition. He is also charged with the responsibility of a special staff officer within the scope of paragraphs 16 and 19, FM 101-5.

More from History of Claims Section from Activation to December 1944:

The claims service has encountered numerous types of claims, of which looting and traffic have been the most prevalent, the former having been more difficult than any other type of case. Experience has shown that there were three waves of looting: First, the Germans looted at the approach of the Allied Army., and the evacuation of the local population and they seem to have been chiefly interested in liquor and foodstuffs; second, the Allied combat troops who took bedding, clothes, wine, liquor, food, cooking utensils, bicycles, automobiles and other items that were probably taken as souvenirs; third, the service troops took wine, liquor, bedding, furniture, stoves and souvenirs. The problem is that the investigating officer was further complicated by the fact that civilians also looted the same items during all these waves of looting.  One fairly typical case of the souvenir hunting type of looting is the claim of Mme. Suzanne Blondeau, US/a/248. The items taken, excepting wines, were all family heirlooms and none were less than 125 years old; the included the family silver, medals won by claimant’s great-grandfather in the Napoleonic Wars. Responsibility of U.S. Army personnel was established through a civilian witness who saw three U.S soldiers taking photos of themselves wearing the Naval officer’s hat. He gave the street number of the house in which the soldiers were billeted, and the Town major as able to identify the unit that had been billeted at this address at that particular time. The unit was written requesting an investigation be made, and upon investigation, a member of that organization was discovered with a part of the missing items in his possession.

Claims for personal injuries seem ridiculously small in comparison to similar claims in the United States. There is usually no claim for hospital expenses because claimant has been in a charity hospital and the doctor’s bill will very likely be two visits at 50 francs per visit. The claim for loss of wages will be small compared to U.S. standards for the wages of the most skilled workers may not exceed10.9 francs per hour under the present rules of the French Ministry of Labor. A claim for injury to, or loss of use of, a work horse will generally be higher than that for personal injury, resulting in incapacity for the same length of time. The veterinary’s bill is 100 francs per visit and the cost of hiring a horse to replace the injured one exceeds the daily wages of a skilled laborer. On the other hand,  in looting cases, claims for bed sheets in both number and amount, appear extraordinarily high. A family of three or four may make a claim for 50 bed sheets worth $10 to $15 each. Investigation has disclosed that it is the custom in Normandy by the time a girl is married she will have accumulated enough bed sheets to last her family for the rest of her lifetime. A family may therefore have 50 sheets purchased as much as ten years ago, with half of these having never been used.

Photos indicate that my father was in Le Havre, which was liberated on September 12, 1944.

Figure 10
Figure 10 - Above, Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Le Havre 1944 “The Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) of Le Havre – completely wrecked.
The “pull” carts and one-horse cars are a common sight. Wood (and fuel of any kid) is very precious. In the evening,
streets are full of workers each carrying a bit of scavenged wood from the ruins.”  (Thomas F. Butt)

Figure 11 - An old post card found on the Internet showing the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Le Havre before it was destroyed by bombing

Street in Le Havre_Page_1.jpg
Figure 12 - Le Havre, September 1944 “A main street.” (Thomas F. Butt)

Later in October 1944, he was in Etretat,32 km north of Le Havre along the coast. Thomas F. Butt photographed the Centre Ville in 1944, and it is little changed today.

Figure 13 – Etratat – “CBS Claims Section Office (early October)  before we went out to Gournay” (Thomas F. Butt)

Figure 14 - Etratat today (*Google Earth)
Sometime after October 1944, the Claims Section moved to Gournay en Bray, east of Rouen and north of Paris.
Figure 15 - “This was our office in Gournay, formerly a pastry shop. Maj. Roddy and our two interpreters.” (Thomas F. Butt)
The Claims Team 6816 commander was Major Werter Raymond Roddy of Little Rock, AR (1907-1957). From Gournay en Bray, the Claims Section moved north a few km to a very small town, Cuy-Saint-Fiacre. The Claims Section occupied a large chateau, which deteriorated and was torn down after the war.

Figure 16

Figure 16 – The Chateau at Cuy, back and side view (Thomas F. Butt)

Chateau at Cuy Staff_Page_1.jpg

The Church at Guy_Page_1.jpg
Figure 18 – The church at Cuy St. Fiacre just across the street from our chateau. Very old belfry looks like a rakish man with a high hat, doesn’t it?”

I spent a good deal of time trying to find the location and a current photo of the chateau with no luck. I could not locate the “Chateau,” but I did, however, find old postcards on the Internet with the same building he called “The Chateau” identified as “Chalet de St. Marceaux.” A little more research indicated that it was the home a famous French 19th and early 20th Century sculptor Charles René de Saint-Marceaux, born in Reims, Marne and died in Paris in 1915. There are twenty-four works of St. Marceaux listed in the Musee d'Orsay catalogue by Saint-Marceaux dating from 1869 onwards.

I sent some emails to village officials in Cuy-Saint-Fiacre trying to find out what happened to the building, and eventually I got a response from Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux. Someone had forwarded him one of my emails . He is the step-grandson of Charles René de Saint-Marceaux and had lived on the property before the Chalet de St. Marceaux was torn down in the 1960s. He said that it got a lot of wear and tear during WWII from which it never recovered. His family sold the property in the 1950s. Olivier said it had been occupied by first the French army, then the German army and finally the American army. The French, he said, was the worst, doing more damage than the Americans and Germans combined.

I sent a number of emails to officials in Cuy and finally received the following from Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux:

Dear Tom,

Your interest in my great grand-mother is very touching to me, so I will try to do my best to answer your interrogations.

My name is Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux. I was born in 1953 and spent most of my vacations during my childhood in Guy-Saint-Fiacre.

My great grand-mother was Marguerite Jourdain who had a house in Cuy-Saint-Fiacre from her own family. Her step-brother was Roger Jordain the painter (1845-1918).

She first married Eugène Baugnies, an orientalist painter (1841-1891) of whom she had three children, she then married Charles René de Saint Marceaux, one of the most famous sculptors of his time. She left a diary published in 2007, which I strongly recommend for you to read, since it contains pictures of the "châlet" (Marguerite de Saint Marceaux - "Journal"- Fayard 2007). She held one of the very lasts Salons in Paris and received regularly people such as Debussy, Fauré, Ravel, Saint-Saëns (to whom she was engaged before marrying Eugène), Colette, Marcel Proust, Messager Hahn, d'Indy, Isadora Duncan, Gounod, Lalo, Massenet, etc., etc. Some of these illustrious guests came to the house in Cuy-Saint-Fiacre.

The house was located at the bottom left corner of your Google Earth picture, and still exists but is out of the frame, perpendicular to the long gravel alley, and along the road. After her marriage with René in 1982, she created an addition to her house and had the "Châlet Saint Marceaux" built. This was also called "La Grande Maison". The house suffered during WWI and was almost destroyed during WWII, following occupation by both German and Allies military occupation. This house, during the fifties and sixties, was forbidden to the children, therefore we spent most of our time inside... My parents could not assume the refection of the house, and the taxes attached were enough to discourage many. They sold the house in 1964 (mid sixties for sure) and the "Grande Maison" was destroyed by the new owner.

The initial house remains, even if it has been re-floored inside. The Grande-Maison/Châlet was located on the Google picture at the area where you can spot a tiny pool, and perpendicular to the "petite" maison/the road. All the pictures you can see of a Normand house with "colombages" (these wooden structures crossing façades), but high and with many roofs, are different angles views of this one house. There was a small porch with a roof at the main entrance, in the middle of the building, facing towards the remaining alley.

I hope this has been of some help,

Please contact me if you need more information,

Best regards,

Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux

Figure 20 - Location of  “Chalet de M. de Saint Marceaux” and “ La Grande Maison” from Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux
I emailed back:

Thank you so much! This is fascinating. 

So, as I understand it, the house shown below (two photos from my father and one from a postcard), called “Chalet de M. de Saint Marceaux” and “ La Grande Maison” was demolished in the 1960s.

 But an older adjoining house remains., the one you call “la petite maison.”

 Despite your verbal description, I cannot find the location you describe of la petite maison. I am not sure what road and alley you are describing. Could you give me the name of the road, or mark the location on a map , scan it and send it to me?

And Oliver responded:

Yes, you are correct, sadly the house was destroyed. The sculptor Saint Marceaux passed away in 1915, and his wife Marguerite (Meg) survived him until 1930. When your father visited the place, it was an indivision between the children and grand-children of Meg, and requisitionned by the allied forces. You'll find attached a copy of a painting showing the former remaining house and a few postcards, one showing the former house in the back, perpendicular to the Châlet's façade. Hope this is clear enough. Let me know.


In 2011, I was able to meet Olivier Baugnies de Saint Marceaux at Café Degas in New Orleans. Olivier is an architect and a French native married to a New Orleans native.

All the time I was corresponding with him, I assumed he was in France. When he found out we were headed to New Orleans, he surprised me by inviting us to dinner. Café Degas is owned by two Frenchmen who are friends of Olivier.

photo (57)
Figure 21 - Above,  Shirley, Tom and Olivier at Cafe Degas

Photo extra
Figure 22 - Below Charles René de Saint-Marceaux (1845-1915)
At some point, my father was in Reims and photographed the cathedral.

Figure 23 – The cathedral at Reims. “Nos. 1 & 2 were taken from the same spot and same angle – by fitting together can get a fair idea of complete appearance” (Thomas F. Butt)

Figure 24  - Reims Cathedral today (Johan Bakker - Wikipedia)

Figure 25 - Map of Northern France showing locations my father was stationed.

From France, my father moved into Belgium to a community called Erezee.  The claims team first stayed at Hotel La Clairiere and later moved to Chateau Blier, dating from the 1500s. They continued to take meals at La Clairiere.

The oldest part of the chateau (actually the farm) of Blier was built around 1500 by the “de Blier” family, who lived there until the middle of the 19th century. The coat of arms of this van Blier family still hangs above the entrance of the castle. Around 1870, Auguste Seny, heir to the de Blier family, built the 'Petit Château de Blier'. In 1882 the chateau (as a holiday home) was sold to the Wilmart family from Liège. The firstborn son, Charles Wilmart, went to live in the castle and, because he had eight children, built the 'Grand Chateau' between 1890 and 1905. Charles Wilmart was a provincial administrator and mayor of Amonines. He died at the castle on September 18, 1932. Four of Charles Wilmart's sons fought during the First World War. The sons sold the castle of Blier in 1935 to Fernand de Ghoÿ, the president of the Special Education of Belgium. During the Battle of the Bulge (World War II, December 1944 - February 1945), the chateau became the headquarters of the US troops: It appears that General Patton spent several days there.

Our family, with my father, visited France and Belgium in 1992, a year after my mother died. We rented a canal boat and spent about a week on the Rive Meuse, which runs from northern France up into Belgium, in the Ardennes region.

Erezee is about an hour west of Charleroi, south of the Meuse in the valley of the Aisne River. We visited Chateau Blier, which at the time was being used a summer camp for young people.

Figure 26 - Postcard from my father to my grandparents showing Hotel La Clairiere

Figure 27 – From an old postcard (

Figure 28 - Postcard from my father to my grandparents showing Chateau Blier

Figure 29 - Chateau today

Figure 30 - Photo of Chateau Blier during our visit in 1992
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Figure 31 - My father with Shirley, Andrew and Daniel at Chateau Blier in 1992
Today, Chateau Blier is a hotel

I’m not sure what my father was doing or where he was between VE Day and his return the US in December of 1945. He may have stayed in Belgium during that time. He told me he returned on a Liberty Ship. His Service record shows he left Europe on December 11, 1945 and landed in the US on December 23, 1945. I only remember two things he told me about the voyage. As a major, he was the ranking officer on the ship, and he won $3,000 shooting craps.

My father returned to law practice and served as a state judge for 50 years, setting an Arkansas record. He remained in the Army Reserve, retiring after 34 years as a brigadier general in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He held the mobilization designation as chief judge of the U.S. Army Judiciary, the highest Army Reserve assignment in the Judge Advocate General Corps and was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1970.

For more, see My Father Would Have Been 100 Years Old Tomorrow, March 25, 2017.

Figure 32 - Thomas F. and Cecilia Butt